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by Douglas Carson
The Fat Family and the Ridge of the Cow
The story opens in the Holy Roman Empire. A certain Heinrich, otherwise Indris - 'a man of distinguished lineage' - was born about 1300. He seems to have enlisted with the Teutonic Knights, and eventually took service with the Lithuanian monarchy.
He had two sons, Constantine and Sigismund (Zimonten). In 1353, the Lithuanians seized Chernigov, a principality south-west of Moscow. Heinrich was sent there as voevod (military governor). He took his sons and three thousand men.
He must have been granted an estate (votchina) with manors to support his followers - possibly the lands of boyars removed by the Black Death. He was received into the Orthodox faith, and was succeeded by his son Constantine Litvinos ('the Lithuanian').
Constantine was succeeded by his son Khariton, and Khariton by his son Andrei. Andrei moved to Moscow in the reign of the Great Prince Vasily the Blind (1425-1462). The power of the Muscovite state was expanding, and Vasily rewarded Andrei.
He is said to have bestowed on him a silver cross, which has been passed down ever since in the senior line of the family. He also gave him a nickname - tolstoy, or 'fat' - which served as the surname of the dynasty. It passed from Andrei to his son Kharp, from Kharp to his son Feodor, from Feodor to Estafy, Andrei II, Vasily, Yakov, Ivan and Ivan Ivanovich.
The family became increasingly prominent in the greatly-expanded Russia of Ivan the Terrible (1544-1584). There were Tolstoys of distinction at home and abroad, endowed with rich estates and appropriate honours. They served in the Swedish campaign of 1589-90, and fought for Boris Gudunov in 1604."
This article looks at the Ulster-Scots ancestry of Count Dmitri Nikolaevich Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, the heir to the main line of the house of Tolstoy.